Audi Q3

WE SAY: ALL IS NEW ON THE Q3 – GREAT NEWS, EX­CEPT FOR THE EN­GINES

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - PAUL HORRELL

Of­ten, an all-new Audi is such a dead-ringer for the old, it barely im­pinges on your con­scious­ness. This is not one of those times. The sec­ond-gen Q3 is big­ger, bet­ter-pro­por­tioned, and a lot roomier than be­fore. It had to open up a gap from the Q2, which ar­rived late in the old Q3’s life, ren­der­ing it bor­der­line re­dun­dant.

Can’t miss the new look. A chunky grille frame, an­other vari­a­tion of Audi’s scary-goth LED eye make-up, and met­al­work fash­ioned into sharp creases, amped up by a dose of Ur-Qu­at­tro over the arches.

In­side it’s all screens now. Not even the base ver­sion has hard­ware di­als. Gone too is Audi’s cen­tre-con­sole con­trol wheel; it’s all done by touch­screen. A pity: ex­cept on per­fect tar­mac, it’s hard to hit tiny screen icons with a bounc­ing fin­ger, how­ever beau­ti­fully ren­dered they are. At least the cli­mate con­trol re­tains ac­tual knobs.

It’s great for fam­i­lies: a big boot and slid­ing, re­clin­ing rear seats. All ver­sions present lots of stan­dard kit: con­nected nav, LED head­lamps, blind-spot warn­ing and lane keep­ing. But some of the cabin plas­tics are off Audi’s usual form.

The 150bhp petrol, with cylin­der shut­off, is a nice engine else­where, but here it strug­gles. It’s laggy be­low 3,000rpm and gritty-sound­ing above. The new 7spd DCT doesn’t help, fail­ing to change smoothly. Are the cal­i­bra­tion en­gi­neers over­whelmed by WLTP and the petrol par­tic­u­late fil­ter? The 190bhp 2.0-litre petrol is sim­i­larly out of sorts. Mean­while the man­ual 2.0-litre TDI is quite a nice ex­am­ple of the genre. The Q3’s chas­sis mi­grates at last to the MQB plat­form – iden­ti­cal, in fact, to the VW Tiguan’s. But it feels much more nim­ble than that, on ac­count of dif­fer­ent set-up: springs, dampers, bushes. Also, you sit 4cm lower in the Audi.

The front-drive Q3 rolls lit­tle and cor­ners with a nice ac­cu­racy and sense of will­ing. It melds this with a ride that, though taut, isn’t harsh or crashy. What it does not do is in­ter­act; no re­bal­anc­ing on the throt­tle, no steer­ing feel. More fun can be had in the 2.0 qu­at­tro, with more power to stress the tyres.

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